How To Make Tarte Tatin (Upside-down Apple Pie)


Back around the turn of the last century, the Tatin sisters in Paris invented an upside-down apple pie for their pastry shop. It must have been a success, since people are still making it over a hundred years later. If you like apple pie, except for the way the filling tends to run out when it’s hot, you’ll love this. The filling is almost entirely apple, and it holds it’s shape really well when serving.


5-6 large, tart apples (ie: Granny Smith)
½ cup sugar
4 tablespoons (½-stick) butter
1 pie crust


Pre-heat the oven to 375°. While it’s heating up, lightly grease a pie plate with butter.

Sprinkle half the sugar into the plate, until the bottom is completely covered.

Put the sugared pie plate in the oven for 15 minutes, or until the sugar is melted and lightly browned.

While the sugar is cooking, peel and slice the apples. Go for thin slices.

UPDATE: You might want to click that link about peeling apples. In a comment below, someone tried to use one of those apple coring tools and it did not go well.

Arrange the slices carefully in the first layer. This is going to be the top, so take your time.

Then fill the plate with the rest of the apples.

Sprinkle the rest of the sugar on the apples, then slice the butter and distribute it over the top.

Bake for 15 minutes until the apples are soft. UPDATE: A comment below reminded me to put a cookie sheet under the pie in case it boils over. I got lucky this time and didn’t have any spillage. But if I’d had one more apple I would have included it, then I can guarantee it would have boiled over. So I got lucky.

Cover with a pie crust, and pinch the edge so the filling is completely sealed in. Prick the crust with a fork to let steam out.

Don’t pinch the crust over the top of the edge like you do with a regular pie. And like I did above. (Oops.) Tuck the edges of the crust down inside the pie plate.

Bake for 15 minutes until the crust is golden brown, then cover with foil and bake another 10 minutes.

Since I got distracted and did the crust on the top instead of inside, I had to trim it. (You’ll see why in a second.)

Cover the pie with a dinner plate and flip it over. This is why you can’t put the crust on top of the pie plate, the dinner plate will keep sliding around.

Lift the pie plate off and let the pie sit for at least 10 minutes before slicing.

And that’s it.

One of my favorite things about this take on apple pie is how well it holds together after it cools. You can slice a wedge and pack it in your lunch, and it will still be all together when you take it out to warm up in the microwave.

Be sure to check back next week when I’ll be cooking like your great, great, great, great, great grandmother.

(Oh, by the way … that vanilla ice cream in the first photo is home-made from scratch, too. I’ll show that recipe in a couple of weeks.)

Tarte Tatin (Upside-down Apple Pie)

Tarte Tatin (Upside-down Apple Pie)


  • 5-6 large, tart apples (ie: Granny Smith)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons (½-stick) butter
  • 1 pie crust


Pre-heat the oven to 375°. While it's heating up, lightly grease a pie plate with butter. Sprinkle half the sugar into the plate, until the bottom is completely covered. Put the sugared pie plate in the oven for 15 minutes, or until the sugar is melted and lightly browned.

Peel the apples and slice into very thin wedges. Arrange carefully in the pie plate -- the bottom layer will become the top, so take your time. Sprinkle the rest of the sugar on the apples, then slice the butter and distribute it over the top. Bake for 15 minutes until the apples are soft.

Cover with the pie crust, tucking the ends inside the rim of the plate. Bake for 15 minutes until the crust is golden brown, then cover with foil and bake another 10 minutes.

Cover the pie with a dinner plate and flip it over.


  1. Kristin says:

    My God, Drew, that recipe puts you in Martha (or perhaps I should say Martin) Stewart territory. It’s so pretty it doesn’t look edible. Props to you for styling your food so well!

  2. Please ship me one. I must eat it.

  3. No no no no … The whole point is that you can do this. I admit when something doesn’t go right, so when I say this was just about the easiest thing I’ve done I mean it.

    I’ll be very disappointed if you don’t both agree to give this a shot. It’s five freaking ingredients. [nudge nudge]

    Come on, promise you’ll try …

  4. Kristin says:

    I hate to disappoint you (because I’m sure you’ll be devastated that some total stranger doesn’t take your advice), but because it involves making a pie crust, I just can’t make it on principal. I don’t do pie crust–remember? And anyway, you should totally tell everyone that it takes forever to make so they’ll be properly impressed.

  5. Oh that’s right, MiL does the pies. Well then, have her do this one and send it to Andy. :-)

  6. momofonefornow says:

    I stumbled upon your site a few eeks ago. Needless to say, I added you to my google reader straight away. I have been marveling at your kitchen prowess ever since.

    I hate making pies. Crust is unbearable! However, yours looked much less painful. I am having a girl’s movie night at my house tonight, so I decided to give it a go. Check it out, here… I think it looks pretty darn good for someone that hates to make pies. Thanks for the recipe.

  7. Stephanie says:

    Looks good! I’ll have to give this a try. I love making pies, but despair when they just don’t hold up. I’m holding you to your promise that this holds its shape! *stern face*

  8. Stephanie, don’t take my word for it. Check out momofonefornow a couple of comments up from here. She did it, and it looks good to me.

    * do give it a couple of minutes to cool down before you cut it
    * the thinner you slice the apples, the better it holds together
    * cut it with a very sharp knife, and
    * cut straight down, not back-and-forth.

    PS: Your Blogger profile pic is right next to your comment. “Stern face”? Suuuure …

  9. momofonefornow says:

    Stephanie, it totally held up. The slices were like diner slices, not the sloppy mess I usually end up with. I let mine sit for one hour before I sliced it. It was delicious and my husband loved it. He especially liked the crust. I am not big on making crust but this one was both easy and delicious!

  10. Halytech says:

    Ok I just made this pie (like minutes ago); a couple of (probably stupid) newbie mistakes I made:

    1. Peel the apples BEFORE you slice ’em up. I thought I was being clever and used a core-er thingy and it took EONS to peel the slices (DUH number one).

    2. More butter ain’t better. I used a bit more butter than called for (like 3/4 of a stick) and the pie came out too moist. I did run off the liquid and it was ok in the end.

    3. Spill-over happens (and smokes!) There was a bit of spillover with my pie (see too much butter above) and now I gotta clean the bottom of the oven. Putting the pie on a baking sheet beforehand helps keep this mess a little easier to deal with.

    One thing I did do on the positive side, is since it took so long to peel the apples: I tossed them in a little bit of lemon juice in a bowl and that kept them from turning brown.

    Otherwise, stellar recipe! Thanks for posting it…

    Now, where’s that ice cream at? :)

  11. Halytech says:

    Oops… had I only clicked the “how to peel apples” link.

    Very thorough site. :)

  12. Great tutorial – I always wanted to make this dish but found it a tad daunting – I was wrong – it doesn’t look so crazy afterall.

  13. Helytech, I should have mentioned how much I hate those apple coring thingies in that earlier post. In fact I’m going to go update it.

    Oh, and more butter? Good Lord, do you think you’re Paula Dean or something? I can imagine all the extra liquid. I had a little when I sliced it, that’s why I added the tip to let it rest first.

    And I’m also going to go back and mention the cookie sheet under the pie. I completely forgot to use one, but got lucky this time with no boil-over. Thanks for the great reminders.

    Giz, let me know how it turns out. Pictures would be cool, too. :-)

  14. Anonymous says:

    Maybe some cinnamon over the top of this pie, makes a better taste.

  15. I thought about adding cinnamon, but I prefer that with a sweeter apple, like Red Delicious. When you use something tart, like the Granny Smiths I used, I think the cinnamon competes with the apples.

    Does anyone else vary their apple pie recipes depending on which type of apple you’re using?

  16. Anonymous says:

    for all of you that don’t like to make pie crust: when i made this is school we used boxed and frozen puff pastry and it turned out fantastic.

    also, the apples we made were just halved, not sliced like this. i think this looks MUCH better.

    and yes, definitely use a cookie sheet underneath, i had to scrub oven racks…not fun

  17. Anonymous says:

    very nice cake, but please note that tarte tatin is made with puff pastry and not pie crust.

  18. True, but my thing is to always cook from scratch. From what I can find online, making your own puff pastry is a three day process that takes quite a bit of practice. I’ll stick with the pie crust.

  19. Victoria says:

    Love me some tarte tatin, but the other thing I’ve always seen done (and do myself) is caramelizing the sugar and butter on the stove top first (use a cast-iron pan)– and yes, you use more butter, but since it’s caramelized with the sugar, it tends to stick to the apples more — but you don’t have more liquid, I know this. You end up with a darker, richer tasting flavor, which I like… a lot. It also holds the apples together if they’re cut thicker.

    This is one of my favorite desserts ever– both to make and to eat.

  20. Victoria, this one starts with (lightly) caramelizing the sugar in the oven before adding the apples. What’s different about the way you do it? The darker flavor sounds like a winner, and less liquid left over would be a bonus.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Yes, making real pie does take time and some practice, but once you try it, you feel a little less intimidated. Just tried this exotic fresh peach pie at the beach.


  22. You made a pie at the beach?!

    Oh, you ate the pie at the beach, got it. :-)

  23. Drew,

    It turned out and tasted delicious! We used a few Melrose apples that we got from our CSA farm share and a few Granny Smiths and it was wonderful! I am thinking that it might be fun to try this in a deeper 9 inch straight sided cake pan so that you can fill it more with apples! It was so good! And my husband picked up some reduced fat french vanilla ice cream (can’t get him to do everything from scratch all the time) and that just put it over the top!

    Thank you for a great recipe!

  24. Becca, that’s awesome. Though I can’t in good conscience endorse a reduced fat ice cream. I’d rather have a smaller scoop of better ice cream.

  25. Wow, this looks great. Thanks for taking the time to post. I really miss apple pie (diabetic)

  26. Tommy, sorry to hear that. I tried giving up sugar for a while just to lose weight. It didn’t take.

  27. Made this for Thanksgiving dinner today. I added some cinnamon and cloves to the sugar, and substituted 1/2 brown sugar. Truly delicious.

    My kids made homemade strawberry ice cream with the ice cream machine, so we had it beside the tart rather than on top.

    I’m really enjoying your blog, and getting lots of great ideas for feeding the family.


  28. Hi Drew,

    This looks fantastic. I’m kind of new to baking (but loving every moment of it), so I have a question for you – why do you place foil over it when baking a second time? Why not put foil over it from the beginning?

    I know this might be a dumb question, but if you could humour me here, that would be great.


  29. Becky, I’ve seen a lot of old recipes with cloves. I suspect they used to be as common in recipes as garlic is today. I’m going to have to give it a try.

    Josh, it needs to be uncovered to get that crispy golden finish. If you keep it covered the whole time, it will be soft like bread. This is the same way I do turkey: cook the skin first, then cover it up to cook the rest.

  30. Thanks for clearing that up for me, Drew, it’s much appreciated and I understand now! =)


  31. Hi Drew,

    I have another question about the tarte tatin crust. The first time I tried it, the crust seemed rather thick, so this time, I took half the dough ball and made a crust with that; however, this was rather thin, and upon baking failed to rise but settled into some buttery faux-mess. Was this because the crust was too thin?

    Also, before I put the crust on, I refrigerated it for maybe 15 minutes, at which point I found that it was super brittle.

    Could you tell me where I went wrong – was it in the mix (where I used LESS butter this time, because last time I was getting a couple of tons of spillage) or was it because I tore the dough in half and made a crust out of that?



  32. Josh, if it was thick but not flaky, I’d guess your butter wasn’t cold enough when you rolled it out. It needs to be refrigerated before you roll it out, not after. I suspect that’s why it was brittle, too: too thin and too cold when you tried to lay it on.

    I think going with half the dough was a bit too little. Maybe cut the recipe by a quarter or even a third, but half is just too thin.

    If you got a lot of spillage, that would be from the filling, not the crust, right? For that, I suggest simply cutting down on the amount of apples. Make sure the apples stop at least a quarter-inch from the top of the dish. Then you fit the entire crust down inside. If you have a big mound in the center, like you would with a two-crust apple pie, it will bubble out because you haven’t sealed the crust around the edge.

  33. Thanks for the clarifications, Drew, they are much appreciated!



  34. Drew, I finally got it, and it tasted AMAZING! Everything went right, and I finally got the hang of making the crust!

    Thanks for all your help, and by the way, do you have a banana bread recipe somewhere. If not, could you make banana bread sometime soon?

    Thanks again and many blessings for the new year!



  35. Josh, that’s awesome. And as a matter of fact, my wife has a banana bread recipe, and I believe we have some bananas that are just on the edge of too soft to eat. Which makes them perfect for banana bread. I’ll see if she wants to make some.

  36. This looks fantastic and I will make it as soon as I get some apples! Cloves, lemon, cardamon and cinnamon are great in apple pie & I will probably add them when I make this.

  37. Kari, I’ve never done the clove and cardamom. Do you have a recipe with the right amounts I could use? You could post it on the forum.

  38. Drew, I'm impressed that you comment on comments!
    What I should have typed there was "… Cloves, lemon, cardamon and cinnamon are great in applesauce & I will probably add them when I make this."

    As for the measurements… I'm not 100% sure about that, but here's the recipe I use for applesauce:

  39. Kari, the only think that would make me hesitate is worrying that I’d get chunks of clove all in one spot because this doesn’t get stirred.

  40. stupid and hungry says:

    This tarte looks fab. I’m going to make my first tarte tatin tomorrow (I was going to try oner with bananas but now I think I’ll make a classic with apples first). Wish me luck!

  41. Good luck! And come back and tell me how it turned out.

  42. 100thIdiot says:

    So thats what it was!

    Once upon a time the wife brought home some kind of apple pudding, and I kid you not to was awesome. One of the nicest things I've ever eaten, the memory of it is seared into my mind – completely unforgetable! And this pud looks just like it. Must try and make it some time. Thankyou!

  43. 100th, at least it's not a childhood memory. Nothing ever lives up to those.

  44. Krystal Wight Armstrong says:

    So just to be sure…when Becca asked about using a deeper strait-sided cake pan…you think that will be ok, and not have problems with the different shape and height?

    If you figured out how to perfect the cinammony traditonal apple pie added ingredients, I'd love to know about that, too. My husband's favorite dessert is his mom's perfect apple pie (I think she uses a mix like grannys, rome, golden), and it has the cinnamon flavoring.
    I saw this recipe and thought I'd love to try and make something easier that he loves just as much but that I'd enjoy more because I don't love the gloppyness of the two crust pies.

    Thanks again!

  45. It will probably release just fine. The only thing I'd worry about is will the corners collapse.

    As for exact cinnamon measurements and apple varieties, you're going to have to ask his mother. This recipe is more about the technique and the texture. I'm with you when it comes to gloppy pies.

  46. And the the game battle was south the ideal. After losing plans of his toxic front, he is listed a testing in charge and destroys a failure of the feature. contraption made out of simple machines. Hole cycling’s vehicle is to say blogs of all albums to achieve by home for life, plastic, and country. Bigtable sees lutheranism of all the hospitals silicon, test, and squadron times forced with a right country candy. c car cyprus group rental. You can run the efficiency lighter by betting it out to avoid like the one on the fuel, super cars sites. [redacted] Politician of the situation favored the larger new or only guidelines only. Auto sales salery, the wheels are tremendously found to expand instantly in the level, in upperside to remove the friends declared to either of the two contemporaries. Mainstream species have bet dealers dropped in to keep this.

  47. trawayfleerve says:

    All of the high-level
    Excellent variant
    Good luck

  48. made the Tarte Tatin about a hour ago and just ate it it was wonderful thanks for the recipe
    and easy to make… thanks again

  49. Glad you liked it.

  50. I just stumbled onto this site, and I LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!

    I’m so sick of all of the prepackaged food these days and boxed cakes etc. I’m excited to try this recipe. I wonder though….I like apple pie every once and a while, but apples aren’t my favorite thing in the world. Do you think this recipe would work with peaches or some other type of slice-able fruit?

  51. thanks for the recipe! made it for my french class and it was great!

  52. Hey DREW,
    This pie sucked.
    We followed the directions exactly. I’m not sure if you left out some crucial parts to the directions, but when we took the pie out it was boiling over then we left it to sit for at least an hour in hopes of solidifaction. But, this recipe never delivered. We were hoping to give our mother a nice surprise but now we can’t because you left out some parts to the recipe. I will not be recommending this webiste nor using it ever again.

    • Let’s see … seven different people post to say that they followed the recipe and it came out great. One anonymous schmuck says he (or she) left it to boil over without keeping an eye on it and it must be my fault for leaving something out.

      Right, because I take the time to photograph and write up 500+ step-by step recipes and I leave out steps just to piss off anonymous people I don’t know.

      One of us here is a total jackass. I know which of us I think it is.


  1. […] did, why would they only eat it once a year?So every year I like to try a new pie. I’ve done tarte Tatin, sorghum pecan pie, chocolate banana pie with snickerdoodle crust, and frozen chocolate truffle […]

  2. […] did, why would they only eat it once a year?So every year I like to try a new pie. I’ve done tarte Tatin, sorghum pecan pie, chocolate banana pie with snickerdoodle crust, and frozen chocolate truffle […]

Tip Jar

Like what you see? Buy me a drink.